The debate over fish, and fish oil, is to me one of the most interesting ones in nutrition in its complexity. We have to ferret out from the debate, the sophisticated marketing of the fish industry, which capitalized on emerging data 15 years ago that red meat is bad for us. (But fish is good for us, they clamored—and scrambled to provide “data” that this is so.)
Then we must evaluate the sources of fish, in a planet where virtually every waterway is highly contaminated and fish retain mercury at high levels off the coast of every continent. (Canned tuna is one of the most high-mercury foods you can find. I recommend you eliminate it from your diet.)
Then we have to look at farmed fish—even more problematic because they are fed ground-up fish pellets, made of guts and skin and bones. (Also chicken feces and genetically modified corn, soy, and canola oil.) These fish products, then, actually contain concentrated environmental pollutants.
Farmed fish is well documented to be higher in PCBs, dioxins, and other carcinogenic chemicals than wild fish. Most of the fish consumed by humans is now raised in farms. Wild “free range” fish eat plenty of toxins, too—but not concentrated in “fish pellets” like on the farms. Fish in farms are fed chemicals to make them pink rather than their natural grey color, are low in Omega 3’s due to their lack of a natural diet, and are given antibiotics at a higher rate than any other livestock!
And we have to look at the nonsense about fish oil. Does it really prevent heart disease? Everyone accepted this quickly as “settled science” mostly because a few data points were being repeated by so many doctors and so many supplement companies. But now we have 20 years of data and those who look at longitudinal trends know that fish oil has saved us from nothing.
What if a fish died and was floating in the water? Would you eat that fish’s flesh, or squeeze oil from it to eat, even 12 hours later? Of course you wouldn’t. It would be rancid. So says Dr. Brian Clement, N.M.D. and PhD, with whom I spoke in Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale. What if it sat for days, and then you deodorized and purified it, highly refined it, put it in gelatin capsules, and put it into distribution so it sat another several months before you ate it?
You’ve noticed that you burp up rancid fish oil taste for hours after you take yours? Rancid oils are carcinogens. The pharmaceutical companies that produce the vast majority of the fish-oil pills will pacify you by saying, “But we deodorize the oil.” Ah, so they use petroleum products, like coal tar, to mask the rancidity. I ask again, do you want to refine a fish-oil product and cover up the obvious signs that it is putrefied and not appropriate as food? This is not an effective way to get Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Especially when there are perfect plant-food sources that don’t cause you to burp up rancid nasty.
Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are fabulous sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. I recommend having all three on hand. I love sprouted flaxseed to add to green smoothies. (I know of 28 anti-cancer compounds in flax. And this product is sprouted, which increases not only fiber, but also explodes vitamin and mineral content. Flax has 7x more lignans than the next-highest source—these compounds are highly breast-cancer protective.)
You get no fiber in your rancid fish oil caps. I really don’t think it’s a good source for anyone, of Omega 3’s. Save your money and eat some good whole foods instead: greens have Omega 3’s in small but highly bio-available amounts.
And chia, flax, and hemp are perfect green smoothie ingredients, but I eat them in lots of ways: roll raw cookies in them or put them in baked products. I love chia drinks from the health food store (one variety of Synergy kombucha is full of it). A spoonful of chia seed at night, chewed well and swallowed, and chased with a big glass of water, will fill up your stomach and get rid of your hunger. Lately I’ve been adding 1-2 Tbsp. of chia seed to my Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie (Ch. 11 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods).
We love this product to put in green smoothies. It’s not just flax, but rather, sprouted and dehydrated flax, and it’s a great food-storage product (4 year shelf life before you open it). Everyone with anxiety or depression should address a likely Omega 3 fatty acids deficit.